Christian help

Masturbation & the Bible


Bible help

A Sin to Masturbate?


Spiritual help

A Sin to Masturbate?


Christian help

Christian Help with Masturbation Temptation


Bible help

Masturbation: Perverted or Morally Acceptable

This webpage is about solo sex. What behavior has God’s blessing in marital relations is an entirely different issue and is addressed in Help for Christian Couples. This webpage briefly explores the too-often neglected issue of how masturbating shapes one’s sexuality. It touches on moral considerations from a biblical perspective, but I share with you as a psychologist seeking your well-being, not as a moralist. This page contains information not found in Towards a Christian View of Masturbation. Nevertheless, the just mentioned webpage is a much more thorough and convincing examination of this vast and important topic.

The Bible shocks us by revealing that what makes two people one is not commitment or wedding vows, but sex – even the most casual sex (1 Corinthians 6:16 – for a biblical exploration of this theme, see a link below). So if we treat marital commitment with extreme caution, we need to be even more cautious about anything related to sex.

If, as the Creator of sex reveals, sex somehow creates a mysterious union between two people (Ephesians 5:31-32), sex is an exceptionally powerful bonding agent – so much so that the Bible declares that no other sin damages us like sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:18). If sex is such a powerful bonding agent, anything related to it must be treated with more caution than handling superglue.

If sex bonds two people, then any sexual pleasure without a marriage partner will still powerfully bond a person to something, but the bonding will be to whatever sights and thoughts are present during that time of intense pleasure.

Should your thoughts be of someone you are not legally married to, then just as in God’s eyes hate is as morally corrupt as murder (Matthew 5:21-22. 27-30), so this is as morally corrupting as premarital sex or adultery.

If, when you are single, at such bonding moments your thoughts are on an imaginary member of the opposite sex, you are likely to find yourself bonded to features of the opposite sex that your future spouse does not have.

For some people, the bonding created by sexual self-stimulation will be to the sight of their own body. If so, it will be this – and possibly the sight of their own gender – that will begin to dominate their passions. Not everyone will slide down this particular hole but, one way or another, the context in which a person repeatedly experiences sexual pleasure will bend his or her sexual preference.

If your thoughts during sexual pleasure are not focused on a person but on neutral things, then attraction to the opposite sex will begin to lower and you are powerfully brainwashing yourself; training your mind and bodily reactions to cheapen sex: corrupting yourself to the point where, for you, sex is a shallow, mechanical puff of pleasure, rather than the height of meaningful, interpersonal union.

Then there are those who try to convince themselves they are being godly by masturbating while focusing on spiritual things. If Jesus walked this planet today, would you try to have sex with him?

Sexual bonding should be reserved exclusively for a husband and wife. Anything else is a perversion. Sexual bonding must not be used to join anyone to a relative or a stranger or an animal or an object or to the Holy Lord.

Masturbating cultivates yearnings for sensations that differ from those generated by intercourse. Just how destructive to heterosexual relations this becomes will vary from person to person. Even in the mildest case, however, it would seem inevitable that masturbating when single will detract from one’s future enjoyment of, and appreciation of, the uniqueness of heterosexual relations.

It is not uncommon for people to find themselves so addicted to solitary sex that they actually prefer it to heterosexual relations and it is even more common for people feel they at least occasionally “need” the unique sensations that solitary sex offers, despite having an eager sex partner readily available. From the countless scenarios let’s choose just two examples:

    * Consider a guilt-filled masturbation addict who loves and adores her husband of very many years. He selflessly does his utmost to give her not just intercourse but lots of manual stimulation and so on, and she often climaxes with him. Nevertheless, orgasm is guaranteed and hassle-free when having sex with herself, whereas orgasm is more hit or miss with her loving husband. So the secret she guiltily keeps from her husband is that many of her fondest sexual experiences are produced by leaving her marital partner out of it, going behind his back, and “making love” to such objects as shower heads.

    * Or consider a man who has lost the ability to enjoy marital relations without first priming himself by filling his mind with images of other women. Mentally, he cannot be alone with his wife, even during his most private, intimate and exclusive times with her. It had started as simply a way to tide himself over until he could be married and enjoy the real thing. He was sure that the sight of his wife would displace his porn-fired fantasies but he discovered to his despair that one woman can never compete with an endless variety of air-brushed, ever-youthful images. He had ruined himself sexually even while he was still technically a virgin.

Nevertheless, suppose your marriage partner somehow manages to fluke giving you sensations so like what masturbation has trained you to crave and expect that you do not actually find yourself preferring solo sex. Even then, your mind has been trained to connect those feelings not with intimacy with your marriage partner but with having sex with yourself.

Want it or not, masturbation programs your mind to think of sexual feelings not as a precious gift from your partner, but as something you have generated yourself. So what will come flooding into your mind when your partner lovingly gives you those feelings will tend to be not thoughts of how wonderful your partner is, but of how much pleasure you used to give yourself. Despite what is actually happening, your mind will tend to register the sensations not as coming from your life partner but as if they were produced by yourself. Feelings that should be binding you to your marriage partner have already been locked in your mind as being associated with having sex with yourself.

When making love, your mind will consciously and unconsciously flit from what is currently happening between you and your partner to what used to happen when you had solitary sex. For example, if your past history of masturbation had trained your mind to associate sexual feelings with fantasizing about an imaginary partner, that is what your mind will drift to, even though you now have a real partner who does not correspond exactly to your imaginary partner.

Even if your partner somehow manages to exceed the heights of what you used to experience in solitary sex, masturbation will have cheapened the most precious sensual gift your partner could ever give you, to being something only ten or so percent more pleasurable than what you used to give yourself. Past masturbation will have robbed you of so much of the “magic” and bonding power of marital relations, thus weakening your marriage.

Sex Outside of Marriage?

Since orgasm is the peak of sexual intensity, how can anyone claim to be reserving sex as part of a sacred bond with one’s marriage partner while indulging in orgasm outside of marriage? How can one claim to be sexually saving oneself while refusing to deny oneself even the very peak of sexual intensity before marriage? (Given our insatiable longing to find a loophole, I should add that just as intercourse outside marriage does not suddenly change morality when conception “accidentally” occurs, neither does deliberate sexual stimulation outside marriage change morality when a climax “accidentally” occurs.)

Sex and Love

It is appallingly common for people to use the word love as con artists to manipulate people or to try to hide base motives. People often become so adept at this con job that they end up duping themselves.

“I love you” is shorthand for “Your happiness means more to me than my own.” That’s noble. It dignifies not only the beloved but the lover. For the depraved, however, “I love you” means, “Too bad if it’s not in your best interest, I see in you someone who might further my own ends, so I yearn to use you.” That’s animalistic. It degrades both parties. Having such an attitude guts a person, turning him into a hollow shell.

Consider this comparison:

  The Con Artist  
  The Lover  
  I live to take  
  I live to give  
  I seek my thrills  
  I seek your happiness  
  “Love” that degrades  
  Love that dignifies  

Because our Creator is love, his two top expectations for us are that we love him and love other people. To be like God, and to reach our full potential, is to love. The opposite is to be self-centered. The self-centered person implodes, destroying himself.

Everything God does is an expression of love and everything he gives us is to be used to express love. In fact, his gift of sex is meant to be such an expression of love and giving that it binds you to a person for life.

Love is all about relationship. And sex is so much about love and relationship that it is losing yourself in another person so that two people become one. As Jesus taught, it is the person who loses himself who finds life and the one who fails to do this, loses big time.

Solitary sex shatters the divinely ordained link between sex and love. God’s intention is for sex to be lovemaking in the highest conceivable sense of the word. In tragic contrast, masturbation degrades and perverts sex by programming its victims to associate sex with self-pleasuring, with getting rather than giving, with self-centeredness rather than other-centeredness. Before long, this perverted focus moves beyond conscious control. When it becomes a habit, masturbation degenerates from isolated acts to an addiction that corrupts our entire mentality, so that our sex drive becomes not something that powers us to nobility and selfless giving but drives us to gorge ourselves.

In masturbation, sex – which should be the height of interpersonal intimacy – turns impersonal. Powerful feelings that should be associated with the sealing and nurturing of the deepest human relationship – a lifelong interpersonal union – become locked into a solo act. By gutting sex of genuine love and interpersonal intimacy, masturbation not only depersonalizes sex, it depersonalizes the masturbator.

In the famous pioneering psychological experiment, Pavlov associated the ringing of a bell with feeding hungry dogs. Before long, the mere sound of the bell causes the dogs to salivate. It became their uncontrollable response to the sound. Likewise, whatever your sexual feelings become regularly associated with will program your sexuality.

People’s sexual response can easily go haywire. There are people who are more sexually aroused by the sight of shoe leather (a shoe fetish) or a computer screen (a porn addict) than by the most sensual sight of their own wife. It was no accident that their sexuality ended up so perverted. In the early stages, their sexuality could have gone in any direction but little by little it became increasingly concreted in one direction through choosing to repeatedly cultivate strong sexual feelings – often by masturbation, but any form of sexual stimulation would do – while fantasizing about objects. This is why those who suppose masturbation is safe, provided you don’t fantasize about people, are tragically mistaken. It is impossible to think of nothing, but even if that were possible, wouldn’t it be a perversion to rip love out of sex so totally as to end up programming yourself to associate sexual feelings with “nothing”?

We have seen that sex is such a powerful part of who we are that if it is abused, it damages the abuser like no other sin (1 Corinthians 6:18). Few of us have any conception of how profoundly attitudes to sex affect our entire personality. If you ruined your eyesight, so many aspects of your life would be affected. So it is with sex. By programming one’s sexuality, masturbation dehumanizes and perverts not just sex itself but the person ensnared by it. “Deny yourself,” taught Jesus. In contrast, masturbation enslaves us to a very different mentality.

Masturbating now, to tide you over until God gives you a sexual partner, is like taking drugs to dull the pain of loneliness. When you find someone, loneliness might vanish, but the craving for drugs will remain. Even if you heroically break the habit, you will most likely for the rest of your life find yourself haunted by the occasional longing for the unique sensations the drugs produced. Of course, the more you had allowed yourself to become addicted, the more it will hound you later in life. So it is with masturbation.

Just how serious is this matter?

Here’s an email I received in response to Towards a Christian View of Masturbation:

    Thank you. I have found hope at the age of 61! I just wish God would have shown me your page sooner.

Another married man battling masturbation wrote to me saying:

    I longed for marriage because I thought I would have my wife and therefore no need to “help myself.” How wrong I was!

How deeply masturbation affects one’s marriage partner differs wildly from person to person. Here is one response: A man wanted sex. His wife was delayed for a few minutes. When she entered the bedroom she discovered that in his lack of self-control he had masturbated on a newspaper. She felt degraded – of no more value than yesterday’s newspaper. The impact of being replaced by a newspaper so crushed her that many years later, as a widow talking of her marriage, she cited this incident as proof that she had suffered a loveless marriage. And she was a woman whose husband had given her lots of sex.

Beyond Marital Bliss

Yes, I am convinced that denying oneself while single will enrich one’s marital fulfillment but I do not wish to pander that, potentially self-centered, small-minded, mentality. Not only are we to love others; above everything must be our love for God.

    1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

    1 Corinthians 6:18,20 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. . . . Therefore honor God with your body.

The motivating force behind everything we do must be not our pleasure, but the glory of God.

    2 Timothy 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, . . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

In a world crammed with people who seek ease and pleasure, we are called to seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33). We are not called merely to admire achievers who sacrifice ease and pleasure to become champions; we are called to become those champions. We are called to greatness and never-ending fulfillment that pleasure junkies can only wistfully dream about.

Can the Damage be Undone?

Even though it is very difficult, a smoker can quit smoking. Long after quitting, however, an ex-smoker will still suffer the occasional craving for a smoke. Nevertheless, the more months and years since his last puff, the closer to “normal” his cravings will be. Likewise, with masturbation: giving it up will be very challenging and long after victory, your sexual desires will still be affected by your past indulgence, but the further in the past the habit is, the less it will affect you.

So an obvious key to undoing past damage is to put as big a distance as possible between now and past indulgence in lust, porn, masturbation or sexual looseness.

Beyond that, any attempt by us to try to “fix” things on our own initiative will be like a novice trying to disarm a bomb. No matter how sincere our motivation, unless led of God, our attempts are likely to end up as disastrous as Abraham’s conceiving Ishmael to fulfill God’s plan to give him a son. We need to keep looking to God for revelation about everything related to our sexuality, and yield to his leading. We must surrender our sexuality to the God who made it and keep asking him to mold it.

For a careful, biblical, spiritual examination of this complex subject, see Towards a Christian View of Masturbation. At the end of that series are valuable links to help you break an addiction to masturbation.

For insights into pornography, see Pleasure Secrets

For more about the nature of love, see Christian Sex Secrets

When sex feels like a useless frustration, see Singles: Celebrate your Sexuality

For a biblical exploration of the role of even casual sex in making two people one, see Premarital Sex Re-examined

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Not to be sold. © Copyright 2005, 2009, 2013 Grantley Morris. May be freely copied in whole or in part provided: the text is not altered; this entire paragraph is included; readers are not charged. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings available free online at  Freely you have received, freely give.
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